Staycation: The Westleton Crown, Suffolk
by Sarah Maber
Good food and a warm welcome make The Westleton Crown perfect for families – and their dogs
‘Oh, I’m sorry,’ says the waitress as she stumbles near our table. We are eating breakfast at The Westleton Crown, near Southwold in Suffolk, and this is the third time she’s returned to us, bringing hot drinks and another round of toast (our 11-year- old son Seth has decided that ‘restaurant toast and butter is the nicest thing you can ever order’). As she delicately picks her way round to our table, I reflect on how hard it must be to wait tables in a hotel where dogs are as welcome as humans and lie on the floor like seals on a headland. And it’s not only breakfast that’s dog-friendly: pooches get their own beds, bowls and treats, too.
Food is a big focus here at The Westleton Crown – a newly refurbished 12th-century coaching inn complete with beams and open fires. Breakfasts are delicious and the traditional full English big enough to meet my husband’s approval. Martha, 12, orders melt-in-the-mouth kippers, and my eggs Florentine is a heavenly combination of fluffy muffins, spinach, poached eggs and hollandaise.
To work off some calories, we decide to explore the coastline on foot. We drive the short distance to Dunwich beach, once a thriving seaport, but now reclaimed by the sea and a vast stretch of shingle, backed by crumbling cliffs. We walk along the pebbles then through woodland, passing the ruins of Greyfriars Monastery and ‘the last grave’, a lonely headstone perched on a cliff that tumbles down to the beach below – the only remaining evidence of a medieval church, now lost to the sea.
We eventually find ourselves walking across National Trust-owned Dunwich Heath and are thankful for the welcoming sight of a cafe, loos and a secondhand bookshop. We order sandwiches, cake, coffee and hot chocolate and browse the books; the children are delighted to find the long-forgotten Austin Powers: How to be an International Man of Mystery annual. Warmed up and ready for the return leg of our walk, we decide to head back along the beach, but the weather turns and we battle wind and rain, feet crunching on the pebbles, ears thrumming with the wash of the waves.
Back at the Crown, everyone needs a rest – and what a gorgeous place to do it. Our two-storey duplex has built-in bunk beds downstairs for the kids, and an enormous, super-king-size bed upstairs. The kids flump on our bed, giggling at Austin Powers, and Rufus and I head downstairs to the Crown for a pre-dinner pint of Adnams and glass of wine.
With everyone suitably refreshed, it is time for dinner. I order the goat’s cheese mousse with heritage beetroot and pistachios – delicate and delicious. Rufus pronounces his Norfolk sirloin steak and triple-cooked chips ‘absolutely perfect’ and the children eat their way through huge plates of beer-battered haddock, chips and mushy peas.
Then the waiter arrives to take our pudding orders. Martha and I decide to share a decadently rich dark chocolate mousse and Rufus opts for the East Anglian Cheese selection with chutney and biscuits. And Seth? ‘Toast, please,’ he requests, solemnly.
How to book
A Family Duplex room at The Westleton Crown is available from £209 on a bed and breakfast basis. To book, visit westletoncrown.co.uk or call 01728 648777.